The following background information will assist us in becoming acquainted and will help clarify my understanding and perspective about the Church and its future.
The source is the book – The Catholic Church in the Third Millennium.
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Shortly after the conclusion of Vatican II on December 8, 1965, the archbishop reassigned the associate pastor of Dan’s parish. The archbishop then informed his pastor that he would not be able to provide a replacement. The pastor met with Dan and informed of this change. Next, he began to explain the new Vatican II challenges that confronted the parish. He concluded by telling Dan that, “Since the archbishop is not going to furnish me a new associate, I am making you my associate – part time, unpaid!” Dan’s primary responsibilities included assisting with the formation of the new ministries and, on occasion, substituting for the pastor at his committee meetings.
In time, Dan, Mary his wife and their children moved. The pastor of their new parish was also the president of the Louisville Archdiocese Priests Senate. The pastor met with Dan and asked him to investigate what the parish might be able to do for the teenagers. Dan learned that several parishes sponsored sock hops and occasional dances. A few offered weekly ‘drop-in’s – a time for teens to get together, listen to music and hang out. Dan also learned that the adult “chaperones” were tiring of the hassles and the problems, especially with dances and sock hops. Once he learned of these circumstances, Dan thanked his pastor’s for his graceful invitation to reach the teens of the parish but he would not be able to accept it. When the pastor asked why, Dan explained that he was not interested in organizing and chaperoning dances, sock hops and drop-ins. The pastor understood and acknowledged the problems and then explained that that this was exactly why he was approaching Dan. He asked Dan to investigate other possibilities for teens.
Dan had two high school teenagers and three other children approaching their teens. For this reason, he became keenly interested and intrigued about the possibilities and accepted the pastor’s invitation. Dan began his research by writing to several dioceses throughout the U.S, to find out what they were offering in the area of youth ministry. He learned that most everyone was experiencing similar difficulties and, except for occasional retreats, there were no models for youth ministry.
This caused Dan to rethink the whole concept of ministry to teens. He reasoned that the teenage years were actually years of learning how to become an adult. Therefore, it would be best to treat the teenagers as adults and allow them to assume the roles and responsibilities of adults. After considerable planning, he developed a “total youth ministry” concept in which he modeled the youth’s organization and its ministries in line with the parish’s adult organization and ministries. The only changes were in titles. For example, instead of a parish council, the youth would have a youth planning team and instead of chaperones, the parents and other adults who became involved would assume the role of “adult friends” and mentors.
Once youth ministry became a reality in his own parish, other pastors and parish ministers asked Dan to assist them in adopting the “total youth ministry” concept. Three years later the archdiocese established an Office of Youth Ministry and Louisville’s Bellarmine University hosted a youth ministry conference. Presentations at other regional and national youth ministry meetings followed. Dan’s wife Mary succeeded Dan as their parish’s youth minister and continued the development process. The total youth ministry concept became a recognized standard.
Shortly thereafter, the Priests Council of the Louisville Archdiocese commissioned Dan to develop a pastoral development program to assist pastors and their parishes in making the transition in becoming Vatican II parishes. This resulted in a continuing series of weekend seminars and workshops over a three-year period. Four neighboring dioceses in Kentucky and Indiana invited Dan to conduct this program for their priests as well. Soon thereafter, he developed and presented ministry formation programs, retreats and workshops for lay pastoral ministers and served as a consultant to diocesan offices, agencies, parishes and schools. Meanwhile, their pastor asked Mary to be his pastoral associate. She accepted and remains one of the longest tenured lay pastoral associates in the Louisville archdiocese.
These ministries were in addition to Dan’s full time profession as founder and president of a national management consulting firm. Dan now devotes his full attention to the continuing transition of the Catholic Church in this third millennium of the world’s history.
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